Arts & Culture

#MasrZaman: Rare Photographs From A More Peaceful, Beautiful Egypt

#MasrZaman: Rare Photographs From A More Peaceful, Beautiful Egypt

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#MASRZAMAN  is a trending hashtag on Twitter that has amassed hundreds, if not thousands, of contributions from tweeps in the form of photographs and news snippets spanning the last hundred years and more of Egyptian history. This mostly black and white tapestry of images chronicling the changes that happened to Egypt in that period proved to be more colourful than most documentations.

The hashtag is riddled with rare photographs of Egyptian celebrities across the ages.

celeb Um Kulthoom enjoying Fayza Ahmad's singing
Um Kulthoom sitting back and enjoying the angelic voice of Fayza Ahmad.

Not to mention the recent passing of Egyptian icon Faten Hamama having set #MASRZAMAN ablaze with pictures of her, spanning her quite extensive career and life.

celeb Faten Hamama + Um Kulthoum
Seen here with Um Kulthoom.
celeb faten hamama omar sherif
Faten Hamama with exhusband Omar El Sherif.

#MASRZAMAN will tickle old memories in the minds of elders, bringing them back to a time when Egypt was as elegant as any European country. It also opens the eyes of many youngsters today in Egypt to the glory that was (and remains to be) Om El Donya.

Place Qasr El Nile street
Qasr El Nile St. 1875.
Place Corniche Nile 1880!
Nile Corniche; 1880.
place Zagazig 1915
Zagazig; 1915. If you did’nt know any better, you’d think those buildings on the other side of the river to be from London.
Place Tahrir 1950
Tahrir Square; 1950s. The beautiful garden in the lower part of the photo has been removed to make way for a parking lot.
Place Entrance to Giza Zoo in 50s
Through the gates of the Giza Animal Zoo; 1950s.

#MASRZAMAN portrays Egyptian houses of worships in the early days of the 20th century through never-before-seen snapshots:

Baslilique church 1920s
The Basilique Church, Heliopolis; 1920s
Place Renovation of Mohd Ali Mosque
Renovations in the Mosque of Mohammad Ali.

What’s more, the hashtag contains photographs of early discoveries of Ancient Egypt’s greatest relics and artefacts.

Pharonic Nefertiti Bust Uncovery 1914 Desert
Uncovering the bust of Nefertiti, Great Royal Wife of Egyptian Pharoah Akhenaten; 1912.
Pharonic The rope seal of Tutankhamun's tomb, unbroken for 3,245 years (1922)
The rope seal of Tutankhamun’s tom which remained unbroken for 3,245 years; 1922.

These days, a hashtag would not be Egyptian without a little drizzle of politics:

tgpvzps psfsqr ex pspuusya 1935 ..!!
Student protests against the English; 1935.
Greatness B0YElalCYAAyw3S
First Egyptian President Mohammad Naguib gracing the cover of Time Magazine. Headline: Egypt’s Strongman Naguib “We have had enough of corruption”.
greatness na7as
Mostafa El Nahhas Pasha, prominent Egyptian politician and former prime minister taking a nap at a train platform in BeniSeuf; 1931. Dubbed above as ‘Leader of the people’.

#MASRZAMAN boasts with footages of Egypt’s most prominent intelligentsia in rarely-seen photographs.

Intelligentia Taha Hussein = wife reading to him
Egyptian literary renaissance figure Taha Hussein being read to by his French wife, Suzanne; this picture is used as a book cover for her memoirs about their marriage: Avec Toi.
Intelligentia Mustafa Mosharaffa
Dr. Ali Moustafa Mosharafa Pasha, Egyptian theoretical physicist, often dubbed as ‘The Arab Einstein’. Rumoured to have been assassinated by Mossad. Einstein, who was in constant correspondence with him, mourned him deeply.

Speaking of science, did you know that the world’s first solar thermal power station was in the heart of Maadi, Cairo? (1912-1913). Shared on the hashtag, these headlines discuss the project by the solar energy pioneer Frank Shuman, and of course without forgetting it having took place in our very own Om El Donya.

Sun Frank Schuman Solar Power

SUN ENERGY

Sun

#MASRZAMAN not only highlights Egypt’s past advancement in solar energy, but also, its surprising equality and support for women’s rights exhibited below:

Women First drving license for woman
While certain Gulf countries still require a parent’s/husband’s permission for a woman to attain a driver’s license (in cases, not all), Egypt has been issuing them since 1929.
WomFirst female int pilot license
First Egyptian woman to attain an international pilot license; 1933.
Women 60s traffic officer
A photo from the 60s, showing a female officer directing traffic.

The hashtag is additionally peppered with advertisements from the early 20th century. Some of which flaunt the usual Egyptian humorous quirks, while some can be quite inappropriate in the modern day!

Stella Love Ad
This advert claims that Stella beer will reignite the lost spark of love between couples.
Beera masreya Add
Another beer advert, this time promoting local Egyptian beer, claiming its drinking to be an act of patriotism!
Tramadol Add
An advert promoting over-the-counter an highly-addictive narcotic, Tramadol, as an ‘amazingly magical painkiller’!
Coca cola Ad
A Coca-Cola advert claiming the drink to be ‘pure’ and ‘immaculate’.

While a smile may adorn your face as you look upon the above footage, be it a smile of amusement, pleasant surprise or bemusement, the hashtag also documents some of the sadder aspects of Egyptian recent history.

Removal of Nubians for High Dam construction.
Removal of the Nubians from their homes during the building of the High Dam.
Jewish Charity School
A Jewish charity school belonging to the Karaite Jewish sect; a religion that almost no longer exists in Egypt.
Re7la bela regou3a
“A one way trip”. Of the Jews of Egypt.
Abdel Naser's funeral
The funeral procession of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Naser.

These are all only mere example of the gems that reside within this hashtag unto which new pictures are added daily. This treasure-trove of nostalgia and enlightening imagery serves to remind us of the greatness that was Egypt and its people, a greatness that should not be left forgotten within the pages of history books, or a Twitter hashtag. A greatness that should not only be remembered, but also, revived.

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Simply, Ahmed Khaled is a medical student with a passion for writing!

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